Corporate Partners Fundraising Series, Part 4: Reaching Out to Potential Partners

This PLTW Blog entry is an excerpt from the PLTW Fundraising Toolkit. You can download the full toolkit here.

Once you identify a list of potential businesses and companies that might have an interest in supporting your PLTW program, and you plan your request based on your needs and research of the company, you can determine the best way to connect. Here are our recommendations for how to get in touch.

1. Follow contact guidelines, if directed.

When approaching a company that has posted giving guidelines on a website, be sure to follow their requested methods for communication.

2. Leverage personal relationships.

The parents of your students, PTO members, and your own personal connections are great places to start when looking to connect with potential partners. If people in your network know someone employed in community affairs in a potential partner’s organization, request an introduction.

3. Network.

Beyond asking your personal networks for introductions, consider joining – or attending events hosted by – local organizations to seek opportunities to share the exciting things happening in your PLTW classroom. Stories about the amazing things your teachers and students are doing in the classroom could result in larger community interest in your program, which could lead to building strong community partnerships. Below are some ideas for the types of events and meetings you may consider attending:

  • Local chambers of commerce events and meetings
  • Local economic and workforce development organization events and meetings
  • Industry group events – these are groups of companies organized by their shared industry such as manufacturing, technology, healthcare, etc.
  • PLTW events
  • Online networking – specifically LinkedIn
  • Local government meetings, workshops, etc.

If you are able to make personal contact, be sure to build up buy-in of your program before making any asks. Our recommendations for building buy-in:

  • Invite your contact to the classroom or an event where your students are front and center. It may not seem like something a company would find interesting, but companies are made up of people with families and children, and seeing students in action can help make your PLTW programs personal for them.
  • Share stories about student and teacher transformations. Telling stories is powerful. Share a story about a student who discovered a new passion through PLTW or a teacher who became reinvigorated by PLTW Professional Development. These stories will speak to the listener about the impact of your program. They will want to know more and get a deeper understanding of what makes PLTW programs different from others.
  • Host a community event, and invite your list of potential partners to attend. This kind of event is open-ended in terms of agenda. If you have a PLTW program already, this kind of event can be a great way to showcase the projects your students have completed. Some ideas you may want to consider include a business breakfast or lunch, a STEM fair or STEM night, or a PLTW showcase event.
  • Create an “Educator for a Day” program. This kind of program invites business, community, and government leaders into a school to meet staff and teachers, visit classrooms, and gain a better understanding of students, staff, school achievements, and school needs.